Prison conditions in Greece




Prisons are regional administrative units functioning at the level of direction under the control of a central governmental authority, the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights. Their operation is coordinated by a central administrative body, the General Directorate for Penitentiary Policy. The directory and its departments monitor the organisation of the penitentiary system.

The thirty four custodial institutions in the country are split into three categories: general, special, and therapeutic. General custodial institutions are further divided to type A (for inmates awaiting trial and for convicted inmates who serve short term prison sentences) and type B (for inmates convicted to long term prison sentences, lifers included). A new, C type, department functioning in a B type institution, has been established for long termers and lifers who are considered as trouble makers. Special prisons include rural units, the central open productive unit (bakery), juvenile institutions and (the never established but one, for women) semi-liberty centres. Therapeutic institutions are general and mental hospitals and drug detoxification centres.

Prisons are monitored by the Body for the Inspection and Control of Custodial Institutions, coming under the General Secretary for Crime Policy. Public prosecutors assigned regularly to prisons as interim judges for the execution of sentences are competent for the observance of prison rules and regulations and, in general, the legality in the treatment of inmates. Prisons include custodial staff departments, secretariat and financial departments (in some cases separately, in other cases under the same head officer). In five prisons there are social work departments, in the four rural prisons there are technical departments and in the one therapeutic institution for drug – addicted inmates there is a therapeutic program department.

Prison staff members are civil servants and they belong to three main categories: administrative, custodial and perimeter security guards. It was only 1973 when social workers were hired to offer their services in prisons. In 2000, a group of specialists (sociologists, psychologists, social workers and one psychiatrist) were appointed to staff the first detoxification prison unit. In the same year one sociologist and one criminologist were also appointed in the central prison of the country. In 2007 more than twenty psychologists were added to the small number of specialists, making them the second “most represented” professionals with a scientific qualification in the field (totally 26 officers), after social workers (59 officers). In recent years some educational and therapeutic programs operate in prisons, run, in most cases, by personnel who do not belong to the prison service. In any case, the general picture has not changed substantially. Major issues of the inmates’ treatment (work, leaves, disciplinary control, social contacts) are mainly assigned to three- or five-member bodies (councils) where the prison public prosecutor and the director are presiding and play the most decisive role. Transfers are centrally managed by a three member body, which examines prison councils’ proposals.

Recently, the lack of prison places became acute, as a chronic prison population inflation problem is part of prison routine. With some exceptions occupancy exceeds 100%, and in some establishments it reaches, or surpasses, 300%. Greece now belongs to the group of countries found in the middle of the Western European punitiveness ladder. In absolute numbers, during the last three decades the population of inmates entering prisons doubled as flow data show. When the daily prison population is considered, a quadruplicating is observed within the same period. With short decline intervals, the number of inmates is sharply rising. This rapid increase is partially attributed to the measures which are introduced to alleviate the problem but in the long run have had inflationary results. These measures pushed courts to increase the minimum length of prison sentences, in the judges’ effort to assure that some convicted persons would end up in prison, without being eligible for suspension or conversion of their sentence. Ambitious but controversial efforts to empty prisons are continuously under way, with poor and soon reversed results. Other contributing factors to prison population inflation seem to be the hardening of sentencing policy and practice, especially in the war against drugs, organized crime, money laundering and terrorism. Legislation passed in the early years of the 21st century, is the proof of a “tough on crime” policy, which in combination with the scandal for a “parajudiciary” racket lead judges to an austerity competition. The result is clearly reflected in the prison population; inmates serving long-term and life imprisonment especially for various cases of drug dealing and trafficking are multiplied, pretrial detainees compose a significant part of the total number of inmates despite the supposedly extraordinary-“last resort” nature of the measure. The massive imprisonment of immigrants is an additional, serious burden to the prison administration, which, left to its own devices under serious criticism, is unable to find a destination other than warehousing socially excluded people.



General data

Conditions of imprisonment


Allocation and accommodation


Clothing and bedding


Legal advice

Contacts with the outside world

Prison regime


Exercise and ricreation


Freedom of thought, conscience and religion


Prisoners’ property

Release of prisoners


Juvenile penitentiary system


Foreign nationals

Ethnic minorities




Searching and controls

Discipline and punishment

Instruments of restraint


Use of force

Requests and complaints

Management and staff

Sentenced prisoners

Life sentence

Alternative measures

Inspection and monitoring


Effects of the economic crisis

About the authors of the report

Special Account of Democritus University of Thrace



updated to December 2012 for daily data and to the entire 2012 for flow data

1. Total population of the country: 10.815.197 [9.903.268 registered] (May 2011, last census)

2. Total prison population rate per 100,000 inhabitants: 110,53

Adult prisons[1]

3. Number of prisoners (including pre-trial detainees): 12.475

4. Number (and % of the total number of inmates) of detainees serving a final sentence (i.e. excluding pre-trial detainees): 7.971 – 63,89%

5. Total capacity of penal institutions (with reference to legal criteria. If legal criteria are not available explain the reasons for this lack of information): 9.886. Legal criteria vary from one prison institution to the other, depending on the date each establishment began operating. The law (Penitentiary Code 1999) distinguishes between prisons operating before and after the beginning of 2000. The prison administration does not expain how the official capacity of the prison system is calculated, although the Penitentiary Code provides for single occupancy in cells (in many new prisons each cell is counted as accommodating two inmates, or each double accommodation cell as accommodating three inmates, without clear criteria). Moreover, the Ministry of Justice includes newly-built sections which are not in use (due to lack of personnel) in its calculation of the capacity of the prison system. The Greek Federation of Prison Service Personnel find this method of calculation unacceptable as they believe it to be an intentional distortion of the real situation which obscures the serious problem of prison overcrowding.

6. M2 provided per prisoner (legal criteria): 35 m3 for single cell accommodation, 40 m3 for double cell accommodation and for female inmates with their children up to three years old, 6 m2 per inmate in wards – valid only for institutions functioning after January 2000. Pre-1999 legislation (the 1989 Code of Rules for the Treatment of Inmates) provided for 30 m3 in single cell accommodation and for 6 m2 per inmate in wards accommodating up to six inmates.

7. Actual surface for prisoner (m2) (i.e. m2 available divided per total number of prisoners): Official data on this issue do not exist. Various CPT, Ombudsman etc. reports show that sometimes four, even five inmates are kept in cells of 9,5 m 2 (Korydallos) or four inmates live in 13 m2 cells (Domokos). These reports show that space available for each individual prisoner is sometimes less than 2 m2.

8. Prison density – total number of prisoners in relation to capacity (%): 126,18%. The calculation is based on official Ministry of Justice data, available upon request, with reservation due to serious reliability problems – see answers to questions 4 and 5.

9. Number of foreign prisoners (and % of the total number of inmates): 7.875 - 63,12%

10. Number of foreign pre-trial detainees (and % of the total number of inmates): NA for 2012. (SPACE I 2011 data for the year 2010: 2.700 – 21,8%

11. Number (and % of the total number of inmates) of female detainees: 557 – 4,46%

12. Number of female foreign inmates: NA for 2012. (SPACE I 2011 data for the year 2010: 260)

13. % of female foreign prisoners of the total number of female prisoners: NA for 2013. (SPACE I 2011 data for the year 2010: 46,3%)

14. % of female foreign prisoners of the total number of foreign prisoners: NA for 2013. (SPACE I 2011 data for the year 2010: 3,6%)

15. Number of prisoners (including pre-trial detainees) between 18 and 20 (inclusive) years of age (and % of total prison population): NA. Prison authorities do not collect data for this category of inmates who are not juveniles but are kept with them, counted as one category, “young inmates” between 18 and 21 (inclusive) years of age.

16. Total number of entries to prison facilities: NA for recent years. Last relevant available data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority refer to 2008: total number of inmates, being imprisoned on 01/01/2008 and entered throughout the year: 19.963, present on 31/12/2008: 11.165.

17. Total number of deaths in penal institutions (specify if this datum includes only the detainees who died inside the prisons or if it also includes those who died outside the prisons – for example, in ambulances, in hospitals etc.): 40 deaths throughout 2012: 10 within prisons, 18 in public hospitals, 3 on leave and 9 in Korydallos Prison Hospital (information given from the Ministry of Justice on September 19th, 2013).

18. Total number of suicides in penal institutions (specify if this datum includes only the detainees who died – from suicide – inside prisons or if it also includes those who died outside prisons – for example in ambulances, in hospitals etc.): 61 attempted suicides in 2012. Data for the number of committed suicides, probably including the number of attempted ones, are not available.

19. Budget for the Justice System and % of Gross Domestic Product: 484.299.100 euro (371.273.000 for the total judicial system + 113.026.100 for the prison system – other Ministry of Justice services and the Police not included); 0,172% of the Gdp (281.400.000.000 euro) [2012 data].

20. Specific budget aimed at penal institutions and % of the previous: 113.026.100 euro; 23,33% of the budget for the Justice System. According to the Ministry of Justice officials the total amount of money spent on the prison system is approximately 115.000.000 euros (personal communication, September 19th, 2013).

21. Specific budget for staff and % of budget for penal institutions: 83.400.000 euro; 73,78% of the budget for penal institutions.

22. Specific budget for prison facilities and % of budget for penal institutions: NA. Public spending for prisons other than staff wages and pensions include consumption and various additional costs (totally 29.825.800 euro) without specifying if money is spent for facilities or inmates.

23. Specific budget for inmates (support, activities, etc.) and % of budget for penal institutions: NA (see answer to the previous question).


Juvenile prisons[2]

24. Number of juvenile prisoners (including pre-trial detainees): 600. These data refer to juveniles and young adults, up to 21 and exceptionally, exclusively for educational reasons, up to 25 years old inmates.

25. Number (and % of all juvenile inmates) of juvenile detainees serving a final sentence (i.e. excluding pre-trial detainees): NA.

26. Total capacity of juvenile penal institutions (with reference to legal criteria): NA. The official capacity of the three special custodial institutions for young inmates on January 1st, 2013, is 623 places. Collected data do not differentiate between juveniles and young adults.

27. M2 provided per juvenile prisoner (legal criteria): see answer to question 6.

28. Actual surface available per juvenile prisoner (m2) (i.e. m2 available divided per total number of prisoners): NA.

29. Prison density – total number of juvenile prisoners in relation to capacity (%): NA.

30. Number of foreign juvenile prisoners (and % of the total number of juvenile inmates): NA.

31. Number of foreign juvenile pre-trial detainees (and % of the total number of juvenile inmates): NA.

32. Number (and % of the total number of juvenile inmates) of female juvenile detainees: NA.

33. Number of female juvenile foreign inmates: NA.

34. % of female juvenile foreign prisoners of the number of all female juvenile prisoners: NA.

35. % of female juvenile foreign prisoners of the total number of juvenile foreign prisoners: NA.

36. Number of prisoners (including pre-trial detainees) between 18 and 20 (inclusive) years of age (and % of total juvenile prison population): NA.

37. Total number of entries to juvenile prison facilities: NA. See answer to question 16.

38. Total number of deaths in juvenile penal institutions (specify if this datum includes only the detainees who died inside the prisons or if it also includes those who died outside the prisons – for example, in ambulances, in hospitals, etc.): NA. See answer to question 17.

39. Total number of suicides in juvenile penal institutions (specify if this datum includes only the detainees who died inside the prisons or if it also includes those who died outside the prisons – for example in ambulances, in hospitals, etc.): NA. See answer to question 18.





a. At admission many details concerning the prisoner shall be immediately recorded (for example, the identity of the prisoner, the reason for commitment, etc.). What kinds of data are recorded? Among the information collected are any visible injuries and complaints about prior ill-treatment also recorded?

Combining the Penitentiary Code with the Prison Regulation, the data recorded upon admission include: 1. A valid commitment order, 2. Time and date of admission, 3. I.D. and photo, 4. Place of residence, 5. Marital status, 6. Religion (optionally, depending on the inmates’ will), 7. Information about the victim (not implemented in practice), 8. Profession, 9. Level of education, 10. A written statement whether non national prisoners consent for the competent diplomatic authority to be informed for their imprisonment. 11. Contact person to be informed in case of emergency (this is declared either to the administrative officer upon admission or to the social worker at a later date). Then, a receipt is given for money, documents and any personal property that the prisoner is not allowed to carry with him / her and has to be kept in the prison safe. Prisoners make a written statement to the chief prison officer if their personal safety is in danger from other prisoners and if they have a special (positive) relationship with other inmates. The doctor (or nurse, if no doctor is available) interviews prisoners collecting information for their medical history.

After repeated CPT recommendations, the central prison administration ordered all prison directors to record visible injuries and complaints about prior ill-treatment in a special register. In conformity to this order, the Prisoner Injury Register (PIR) is being kept in all prisons since June 2011. Injuries identified after new prisoners and persons already detained in prisons are medically examined, are recorded in these PIRs. Explicit reference is made to the type of injury and the reported cause, as well as the date and time of examination. When the injury is connected to alleged, reported or suspected violence, the administration of the prison notifies the supervising Public Prosecutor and the General Directorate of Penitentiary Policy of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights or the local police authority for preliminary investigation and further action. This practice has been applauded by the UN CAT in its 2012 report concerning Greece but it is not sure that it is followed in an unvarying manner and there seems to be a gap in informing the public prosecutor who is competent to examine if a chargeable offence occurred. So the crucial question of impunity is not solved.

b. At admission all prisoners shall be informed in writing and orally, and in a language they understand, of the regulations governing prison discipline as well as of their rights and duties within prison. Do the institutions in Greece follow this rule?

According to the Greek Penitentiary Code newly-admitted inmates should be informed by the prison director (or another authorized member of the prison administration) orally and on paper in a language they understand of their rights and obligations as well as about the prison regulations. In reality, despite the law, inmates are not provided with the information leaflet which should be delivered to them, simply because it does not exist. A “Prisoners’ Guide” prepared by the NGO ARSIS for this purpose in 2008 has been used for a limited period in the context of some programs run in prisons by various organizations, but it was not delivered directly to prisoners themselves. Moreover, the lack of official, professional interpreters means that newly-admitted foreign nationals who do not understand Greek or another widely understood language, rely on other prisoners for all information regarding the daily life in prison, rules, rights and duties, access to free legal aid, complaints procedures, communication with their embassies, etc. The same can be said for their contacts with prison staff. In some cases, though, the Prison Regulation, translated in three or four languages, is available in prison libraries. This, of course, is not a satisfactory solution to the serious lack of information.

c. Upon admission to prison, in the event of a prisoner’s death, serious illness, serious injury, or the transfer to a hospital, the authorities shall, unless that prisoner expressly requested them not to do so, immediately inform the spouse or partner of the prisoner, or, if the prisoner is single, the nearest relative or any other person previously designated by the prisoner. Do the institutions in Greece follow this rule?

As provided by law, relatives are immediately informed (usually by a social worker) of the death of an inmate. In the event of the death of foreign nationals the embassy or the consulate of their country is informed. Should a prisoner be transferred to a hospital for serious health reasons, the closest relative or another person named by the inmate upon admission is informed.

d. As soon as possible after admission, the information about the health of the prisoner on admission shall be supplemented by a medical examination (in accordance with rule 42 of EPR). Does this examination really happen in Greece? How long does it take for the medical examination to be accomplished?

According to penitentiary law, the doctor interviews all newly-admitted prisoners and records their medical history within the first working day following admission. The doctor prescribes various examinations and tests (for HIV, hepatitis, glucose and a chest x-ray). However, in practice all these may be delayed or may never take place. During the CPT’s visit to Korydallos Prison in 2011, it was estimated that approximately 25% of newly-admitted inmates had not been examined because they didn’t appear at the set time. Usually this applies to foreigners who do not understand the announcement with which they are asked to proceed to the prison medical office. Yet, it is reported that the situation has improved considerably since then. In other prisons the medical examination is held on the first working day after admission (not necessarily within 24 hours, as the European Prison Rules recommend). Chest x-rays and blood tests may be delayed in large prisons due to lack of funding in hospitals. Prisoners repeatedly complain about the fact that someone can become their cellmate without having been medically examined. The Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights assure that new prisoners are normally examined by physicians within one day after their admission to prisons and the relevant information is kept in their personal medical file. The prisoners' electronic health card is currently being processed, in order to have a steady central health database.

e. In Greek prisons are there measures in place aimed at the prevention of prisoner self-injury and suicide?

There is no Risk Assessment Scheme for the prevention of suicide or self-injury (neither in law, nor in practice). Due to lack of proper reception and first night procedures, suicidal tendencies are not detected early enough. If an inmate’s behaviour indicates suicidal tendencies, he/she is referred to the psychiatrist who will prescribe medication or initiate the inmates’ transfer to the (Central) Psychiatric Prison Hospital or another mental health unit. Counselling and psychological support is available to a limited number of prisoners in prisons where psychologists and social workers work or where other specialized professionals offer services according to specific agreements between the Ministry of Justice and public or non-profit health services and organizations (a practice followed recently – see, also the answer to the next question).

f. In Greek detention facilities are there some sections used for solitary confinement of the prisoners? What is it used for (for example, punishment, protection etc.)? Are there different kinds of solitary confinement?

In law, segregation should be used for disciplinary/order, alleviation/prevention of self harm and health related reasons.

In prisons there are segregation or/and isolation units which are used for inmates who: (a) are punished to stay in a special cell for a period up to 10 days for disciplinary reasons, (b) have made a written request to be placed in protection status, (c) suffer from contagious diseases. Isolation is not often used in Greek prisons as a disciplinary measure. Most inmates in segregation are there for reasons of personal safety. Since there are a limited number of cells available, three or four people may sometimes be placed in each cell of these units (less than 6 m2 in size).



a. Prisoners shall be allocated, as far as possible, to prisons close to their homes or places of social rehabilitation. Allocation shall also take into account the requirements of continuing criminal investigations, safety and security and the need to provide appropriate regimes for all prisoners. Does this happen in Greece?

In law, the public prosecutor who orders pretrial detention or imprisonment should take into account the place of residence of the person deprived of his / her liberty. However, what normally happens is that inmates are sent to a prison functioning close to the area where the investigated crime has been committed or to another, less overcrowded prison, without proximity considerations as regards the inmates’ place or residence or judicial investigation and hearing of their cases.

b. As far as possible, prisoners shall be consulted about their initial allocation and any subsequent transfers from one prison to another. Does this happen in Greece?

Initial allocation is ordered without such a consultation (see answer to the previous question). After admission to the initially chosen prison, according to the law inmates can apply to be transferred to another prison for personal, family or educational reasons. The Prison Council may also ask the competent body (see below) to order the transfer of an inmate to another prison. Inmates can also apply to be transferred simply to work in another prison. The decision for transfers on these grounds is made by a central, three member body (the Central Transfers Committee - CTC). In practice many of the inmates’ needs cannot be met either due to prison overcrowding or for security reasons. Decisions which reject inmates’ applications for transfers are not properly justified. Transfers are also provided for health related issues. In these cases a medical diagnosis is needed, followed by a proposal of the Prison Council to the CTC.

c. Do the accommodations of penitentiary institutions respect human dignity and, as far as possible, privacy, as well as meet the requirements of health and hygiene, with due regard being given to climatic conditions and especially to floor space, cubic air space, lighting, heating and ventilation?

In legislation these are principles guiding the treatment of inmates. In practice overcrowding is an acute and chronic problem in Greek prisons. Although new prisons have been built and new wings added, conditions of detention have deteriorated so much that both the European Court of Human Rights and the CPT declare that conditions of custody are incompatible with human dignity. Since many cells of 9,5 m2 are occupied by four or five people, privacy is undoubtedly violated. Under these circumstances, not even the basic requirements of health and hygiene can be met: some prisons are over-run by cockroaches, the mattresses are filthy and the cells are often dirty. Prisoners themselves are by law responsible for their personal hygiene and the condition of the cells they live in.

d. In all buildings where prisoners are required to live, work or congregate, are there alarm systems that enable prisoners to contact the staff without delay?

The law is silent on this issue. In old prisons such a system does not exist at all. Some new establishments do have an alarm system at the disposal of inmates to facilitate their contact with staff members in cases of emergency. An alarm system could probably have prevented the death of four inmates who were burnt alive after the cell they were locked in caught fire in March 2006, at midnight.

e. Prisoners shall normally be accommodated in individual cells during the night, except where it is preferable for them to share sleeping accommodations. Does this happen in Greece?

In law, single accommodation is a right for all inmates, but in practice it depends on the conditions of each prison. Single cell accommodation is a rare phenomenon in Greek prisons. For example, the 2,400 male inmates in Korydallos (central judicial prison) live in cells of 9,5 m2 with three or four cellmates. In these cases, with five inmates in a cell, one is sleeping on the floor. Overcrowding is such an acute problem in many prisons that even in some of the new ones, like Domokos, with 13 m2 cells, one of four inmates who share a cell has to sleep on the floor.

f. Are untried prisoners separated from sentenced prisoners?

The legal status of each prisoner is one of the most important criteria for separation. Despite the law, though, remand and sentenced prisoners in prisons for men are not separated due to overcrowding. Only untried females are separated from sentenced ones, being kept in two different prisons.

g. Are male prisoners separated from female prisoners?

As provided in law, female prisoners are kept separately from male ones. There are two separate women’s prisons (Korydallos, Thiva) and separate female sections in two men’s prisons (Diavata in Thessaloniki and Neapolis in Crete), used mainly for procedural and sometimes for disciplinary and protection reasons [judicial hearings and trials, personal differences or disorder].

h. Are young adult prisoners separated from older prisoners?

In the Special Youth Custodial Institution of Avlona juvenile prisoners (15-18 years old) share accommodation with young adults (18-21 years old). In exceptional cases, and only for educational reasons, inmates up to 25 years of age may stay in the same institutions. Young male inmates are placed in cells and dormitories with priority given to nationality rather than age to reduce risk of rape or other kinds of exploitation and abuse. There is a special unit for young female prisoners in Eleona Thiva Prison for sentenced women, but not in Korydallos women’s prison for pretrial detainees.



a. When prisoners are admitted to prison, the cells or other accommodation to which they are allocated shall be clean. Does this happen in Greece?

Only in Special Youth Custodial Institutions there are special reception units. In other prisons, newcomers are placed from the first day in cells already occupied by other inmates, often having been in prison for long periods. The situation of the cell each newcomer is sent to depends on how clean other, previous cellmates keep it.

b. Prisoners shall have ready access to sanitary facilities that are hygienic and respect privacy. Does this happen in Greece?

The new prisons (or wings) have toilet and shower facilities in each cell. In the old prisons there is only a washbasin and an open toilet separated from the main cell by a curtain. Because there are up to five persons in the cell, privacy is impossible while the cell is closed.

c. Do prisoners have access to a bath or shower, at a temperature suitable to the climate, daily, if possible, but at least twice a week (or more frequently if necessary) in the interest of general hygiene?

In the new prisons there is a shower in every cell. In the old ones there is unlimited access to a common shower every day. However, in many prisons, there is not enough hot water to cover the needs of all prisoners.

d. Do prison authorities provide inmates with the necessary means to maintain personal hygiene and sanitation, including toiletries and general cleaning implements and materials?

Prison directors are obliged by law to provide all inmates with essential toiletries and cleaning materials. However, only the poor and the indigent (those with no money in their personal accounts) are given these for free. Other inmates have to buy them and cover their own needs.



a. Prisoners who do not have adequate clothing of their own shall be provided with clothing suitable for the climate. Does this happen in Greece?

In law this is an obligation of the prison administration. Furthermore, additional clothing is provided for those working in the kitchens, workshops and farm prisons. Social workers who belong to the prison service, assure that clothing (usually donated by charities) is available for those in need, who cannot afford to buy it themselves or do not have social support.

b. Is this clothing degrading and humiliating?

The clothing provided is usually second-hand but it is normally in good condition. As the law provides, there is no indication that it is especially for inmates. Moreover, there is no special uniform for inmates, so there is no question of degradation or humiliation regarding this issue.



a. Prisoners shall be provided with a nutritious diet that takes into account their age, health, physical condition, religion, culture and the nature of their work. Does this happen in Greece?

The Penitentiary Code is conforming to these principles. Normally, the prison diet is the same for all inmates. When possible, adaptations are made for religious reasons. Also, an alternative diet is provided for medical reasons. The quality and quantity of the food has declined within the after 2009 crisis period. Recently and for some months, 1.8 to 2.2 euro was the amount of money spent by the state daily on each inmate for three meals. In 2003, the corresponding amount was 3.2 euro (meanwhile, food prices continue to escalate) and the Ministry of Justice decided the amount to be restored at the same level, contrary to general cuts. In juvenile and therapeutic prisons the respective amount is slightly higher. Sometimes, exclusively for health reasons in law but without this restriction in practice, prisoners are allowed to cook their own food themselves (they order it from supermarkets contracted with prisons). Inmates are also allowed to receive specific foods from their visitors twice a month.

b. How many meals a day are prisoners served? How many of those are warm meals?

There are three meals daily: breakfast at 7:30, and two hot meals, lunch 11:00-11:30 and dinner half an hour before sunset.

c. How are the requirements of a nutritious diet decided?

The menu program is planned at the end of each week for the following week by the financial department of each prison and is approved by the Prison Council and the doctor. The quality and quantity of the food is checked every day by the prison director.



a. Is there a recognized scheme of free legal aid?

There is special law for legal aid, with special provision for inmates. The prison public prosecutor, a kind of “judge for the execution of sentences”, is competent for legal counselling, independently of the inmates’ financial status. Moreover, prisoners with no financial resources can apply for free legal aid – i.e. a lawyer who will defend them at the investigation and the trial stage for the most serious criminal cases (felonies). For example, during 2012, in the central judicial prison of Korydallos, there were 600 applications for free legal aid, mainly from foreign nationals. Judicial authorities are also obliged to appoint a lawyer at the investigation and at the trial stage for those accused of a felony if they do not have one. In the juvenile and young adults prison of Avlona a special legal counselling program is also available.

b. Where there is a recognized scheme of free legal aid, do the authorities bring it to the attention of all prisoners?

All prisoners should be informed about free legal aid procedures at the stage of admission. In practice, information is given by social workers and by written notifications, but, contrary to the law, it does not happen systematically.

c. Are the consultations and other communications (including correspondence about legal matters) between prisoners and their legal advisers confidential?

All kinds of communication between the prisoner and his / her lawyer – by telephone, correspondence, or face to face communication – are strictly confidential. Legal visits take place under visual (not acoustic) control. Remand prisoners in law (all prisoners in practice) have the right to communicate by cardphone with their lawyers with no time or frequency limitation, in the context of the prison daily program.

d. Do prisoners have access to, or are allowed to keep in their possession, documents relating to their legal proceedings?

Prisoners are allowed to keep copies of documents relating to their case in their cells. They also have the right to be informed (orally, by reading or by making copies of the documents they need) of the content of their personal and health files kept in prison. One serious problem is that many times, especially foreign or illiterate inmates, are not able to understand the meaning of the documents or the information given to them due to lack of language and education skills.



a. How many phone calls can a prisoner make per week? Is there a limit to the number of letters that can be sent out? Are there other forms of communication that prisoners can use?

There is no limit, either in the number of phone calls made or in the number of letters sent or received. There is only a limit as regards the value of phone-cards a prisoner can possess – up to 25 euros worth each time. Mobile phones are strictly forbidden (however many prisoners often violate this rule and are therefore punished by the Prison Disciplinary Council). Only correspondence between inmates in different prisons is subjected to special permission. Communication (by telephone and with correspondence) between juvenile and young adult inmates and their relatives kept in other prisons, however, is allowed also after a special permission is granted. So is the case for couples, when husband and wife are kept in the same prison cluster. In the last case visits are also allowed after a permission granted by the prison public prosecutor. At present, inmates’ access to and communication via the internet is forbidden.

b. How many visits can a prisoner receive per week? Do the arrangements for visits allow prisoners to maintain and develop family relationships?

Each prisoner has the right to receive at least one social visit per week. Remand prisoners can receive weekly two social visits (minimum). In law, each visit should last at least half an hour, but in practice, in overcrowded prisons it is limited to 15-20 minutes. Visits from non-relatives are allowed with special permission granted by the Ministry of Justice. Closed visits take place in a cubicle with a separating glass over a telephone. Open visits are rare and are permitted between husbands and wives with children. Foreign nationals can receive open visits by representatives from their embassies. At present there is not a family or conjugal visit scheme.

c. Whenever circumstances allow, can prisoners be authorized to leave prison, either under escort or alone, in order to visit a sick relative, attend a funeral or for other humanitarian reasons?

Prisoners have the right to apply for an “emergency leave” to the prison public prosecutor: (a) to attend the funeral of a spouse or close relative, (b) to visit a spouse or close relative in hospital, (c) for serious, unpredictable family or professional reasons. An emergency leave may last up to 24 hours, with or without police escort (pending on the decision of the prison public prosecutor). Inmates complain that many times they are unreasonably escorted and handcuffed during these leaves.

d. Can prisoners keep themselves regularly informed of public affairs by subscribing to and reading newspapers, periodicals and other publications, and by listening to radio or television transmissions?

In law as well as in practice, inmates have free access to all newspapers and other publications at their own expense. Small private radios and TV sets (with earphones) are allowed in cells for personal use. Prison administration can provide prisoners with TV sets if they cannot afford to buy them. Cable TV is also permitted. TV viewing is allowed on a 24-hour basis on condition that other cellmates are not disturbed.

e. Can prisoners communicate with the media (unless there are compelling reasons to forbid this for the maintenance of safety and security, in the public interest or in order to protect the integrity of victims, other prisoners or staff)?

In practice, inmates can contact mass communication media. However, this may result in disciplinary action being taken against them. This is possible whenever the prison administration decides to activate the regulation according to which inmates have the right to contact only persons allowed to visit them. Prisoners can apply for a special permission to be interviewed by journalists.

f. Can prisoners participate in elections and referenda?

Inmates who are Greek citizens and retain their political rights (namely before a final sentence is passed by the Second Instance Court for serious offences) have the right to vote in elections for the National Parliament and the European Parliament. There is no legal provision for voting, neither in public referenda (the last referendum held in Greece took place in 1974) nor in local government elections.



a. Does the prison regime offer a programme of activities?

Despite the legal provisions stipulating the entitlement of all prisoners to education, vocational training, organized physical exercise and recreational activities, in reality, only a small number of prisoners have the opportunity to engage in organized meaningful activities of this kind. This is a continuously repeated finding of the CPT, which in its reports recommends that Greek penitentiary authorities should organize a full range of such activities, offering inmates opportunities to take advantage of their time in prison.

b. How many hours a day do prisoners spend outside their cells to improve human and social interaction?

According to the prison regulation, inmates are allowed to spend 10-11 hours per day outside their cells. They can engage in sports, work, education, therapeutic programs or other spare-time activities from 08.00 a.m. when the prison yard opens, until noon (12.00), and from 03.00 p.m. [or 02.00 p.m. during the winter period] until half-an-hour before sunset. Inmates who participate in educational programs or who work can, with special permission, stay outside their cells for more time. Prisoners are not locked in their cells at noon in case of heat, when the temperature is 36o C or higher.

c. Is there any particular attention given to the needs of prisoners who have experienced physical, mental or sexual abuses?

There is not such rule in prison laws and regulations. In practice, also, there are no specific programs for these prisoners’ needs. Only the prison psychologist provides counselling and therapy to inmates who have experienced physical, mental or sexual abuse, upon their initiative and request.



a. Do prison authorities provide work opportunities (either on their own or in co-operation with private contractors, inside or outside prison)?

The law refers to a complex system of work opportunities inside and outside prison, in the public and in the private sector, as well as for the inmates’ own profit. Approximately 5,300 job posts are available for 12.500 prisoners in the 34 Greek prisons. The majority of these jobs are cleaning and maintenance of prison facilities in general. Instead of payment, these jobs result in the reduction of the actual sentence length. Although the Penitentiary Law provides that prisoners can work outside the prison being paid, in reality this does not happen at all. There is opportunity for productive work in the four farm prisons and in the bread production unit at Korydallos as well as the mattress production unit at Halkida prison.

b. Are work opportunities encompassing vocational training provided for prisoners able to benefit from them (especially for young prisoners)?

Very few of the jobs available include training or apprenticeships that could be useful for reintegration after release. The majority of jobs simply cover daily prison needs (e.g. cleaning) in return for a substantial reduction in sentence time as an incentive for good behaviour. There are no personal development plans or preparation schemes for life after release. Recently the central body for the organization of reintegration activities (Epanodos, which means “return”) is activated towards interventions of this kind for small numbers of inmates and ex-prisoners, with the prospect of finding a job. In 2012 in the 34 prisons of the country only 11 vocational training programs were implemented (bakers, cooks, potters, computer operators, aluminium technicians, etc.) in collaboration with public agencies and NGOs. In special custodial institutions for young inmates there are permanent educational structures, equivalent to primary and secondary schools, but vocational training programs have not been developed yet.

c. The organization and methods of work in the institutions shall resemble as closely as possible those of similar work in the community in order to prepare prisoners for the conditions of normal occupational life. Does this happen in Greece?

Most of the jobs are unqualified and inmates’ duties are limited in comparison to respective work outside of prison, while working rights almost do not exist. Some jobs, however, especially in farm prisons, may be very demanding. Corresponding adjustments are being made in terms of sentence reduction, with each working day calculated as 1¾, 2 or 2½ sentence days respectively, while “remuneration” is symbolic and insignificant (see answer to the next question).

d. Are prisoners remunerated fairly in relation to the outside world? Are there some restrictions in the use of remuneration?

The issue cannot be examined in these terms. Inmates working in Greek prisons gain a substantial reduction of their sentence length - this can be from 24 days to 45 days per month. These inmates also receive a nominal daily financial remuneration of less than 1 euro per day. The amount is slightly higher in prison workshops. A part of this remuneration is put in a special account of the Ministry of Justice, which is used for improvements of prison conditions.

e. Are there any health and safety precautions for prisoner workers in order to protect them adequately? Are these the same precautions that are applied to workers outside?

As stipulated by the Penitentiary Code, following medical assessment, it is not allowed to select a prisoner applying for work for any occupation that could cause serious and permanent damage to his/her health. Furthermore, inmates under psychiatric treatment who receive medication are not placed in work at all or, at least in demanding or dangerous work conditions.

f. Are prisoners who work included in the national social security system?

Some inmates who work in prison or who attend training programs are insured only against the risk of an accident. There are also some provisions in terms of hygiene or medications. Accident insurance coverage varies depending on how dangerous and how demanding the work is.



a. Does every prisoner have opportunity for at least one hour of exercise every day in the open air, weather permitting?

In legal terms inmates have the right to exercise or walk for at least one hour daily either in the yard or in an area protected from bad weather conditions. In practice, this is normally the case. But inmates held in segregation or isolation do not always have access to the yard even for one hour a day, despite legal provisions.

b. Are there appropriate installations and equipment, in order to facilitate such activities?

The law stipulates that gyms and sport grounds with suitable equipment for individual and group exercise should exist in every prison. However, only five out of 34 Greek prisons have sports facilities. In 24 prisons there are halls for various activities. Some organized sports programs are run by external organizations from time to time in certain prisons.



a. What kind of educational programmes are there in Greek institutions?

Seven Second Chance Schools are operating in prisons for adult inmates who want to complete the 9-year compulsory education. Two Primary and High schools function in special juveniles and young adults custodial facilities. There are also 19 educational, vocational training and counselling programs (Greek and English languages, Computer Science, Maths, Chess etc.) run in nine prisons (for a full account of educational, vocational and other activities see answer to the next question). According to the Penitentiary Code prisoners can be granted a prison leave for educational reasons (to attend courses in recognised and state-certified educational institutions of all levels). This provision, though, is implemented only in exceptional cases.

b. How many prisoners are attending an educational programme (for each kind of educational program)?

This kind of quantitative information is not available. Data refer usually to numbers of programs, not to numbers of participants, and no evaluation of these activities is published. In Korydallos Prison approximately 160 inmates have completed successfully the program of the Second Chance School within the first eight years of its operation (2005-2012) from the 450 inmates who have attended, and half of them continued their studies, according to the Director of this School. After personal communication, we were informed that the Primary School of Avlona has three teachers for 50 pupils (selected from 150 applicants). The High School has about 29 teachers with 150 pupils registered every year. In 2009-2010 only 16 inmates attended regularly High School. According to the contributions of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights in the response of the Greek Government to the CPT 2011 report (10 January 2012) and the National Commission of Human Rights Annual Report for 2012 (from March 2013, forthcoming), nineteen [19] educational, vocational, consulting and psychological support programs were offered in 2010-2012 in 9 prisons, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs, the Prefectural People's Education Committees, the Social Youth Support Organization "Arsis" and other bodies (e.g. Greek, English, French languages, computers, mathematics etc.). In addition, eleven [11] vocational training programs were being implemented in 5 prisons in association with the Ministry of Employment and Social Security (e.g. bakers, cooks, potters, computer operators etc.). Moreover, seven [7] second-chance schools are operating in respective prisons, as well as two [2] lower and middle education schools in juvenile detention facilities. In the same documents, it is reported that a study was carried out for the establishment of vocational training departments within prisons, to support prisoners’ social reintegration efforts. Sports facilities exist in 5 of the 34 prisons of the country, while multipurpose halls function in 24 of them. Sports programs are being implemented in some prisons in association with the General Secretariat for Sports. Recreation programs and events (documentaries, concerts and theatre shows) are also organized, but not on a regular basis.

c. Do these educational programmes take place under the auspices of external educational institutions?

The Second Chance Schools in prison operate under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs (recently renamed the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Sports and Culture and now called “Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs”). Most of the educational and training programs are also implemented in prison under the auspices of external institutions while some courses are organized by NGOs or by members of prison staff. One of them is the “Book Club” organized by two sociologists in Korydallos Prison, where intellectuals are invited and discuss with inmates about a theme, a movie or a book. A similar program, the “Workshop for Narration and Writing”, is organized in the Special Custodial Institution for young inmates in Volos by university and high school teachers.

d. Does every institution have a library? Is it adequately stocked with a wide range of both recreational and educational resources, books and other media? Are books available in different languages? Is it connected with public libraries in the outside community?

The Penitentiary Code provides that all prisons should have a lending library which should be kept up-to-date. The legislative “wish” is expressed for prison libraries to be connected with local Public Libraries, with the co-operation of a librarian. While lending libraries exist in all prisons, this connection rarely happens. Prison libraries are normally open on working days for at least two hours, in the morning and in the afternoon. In practice, they may be open for less time or not open at all due to lack of staff. All prisoners have access to the library on condition that they do not meet prisoners kept in other sections of the same prison.



a. Is the prison regime organized so far as is practicable to allow prisoners to practice their religions and follow their beliefs, to attend services or meetings led by approved representatives of such religions or beliefs, to receive visits in private from such representatives of their religions or beliefs and to have in their possession books or literature relating to their religions or beliefs?

The Penitentiary Code recognizes the prisoners’ right to practice their religion and to communicate with recognized representatives of this religion. At Korydallos prison a priest offers religious services (Christian Orthodox only) as well as marriage services and baptisms. Priests and preachers from recognized tenets are allowed to visit large prisons regularly. These include Roman-Catholics, the Church of Christ, Evangelists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others, as well as the dominant in Greece Christian Orthodox Church. Visiting permission is granted on condition of no proselytizing (in reality hard to define). So far, Muslim priests have not been visited inmates despite the fact that the majority of foreign national prisoners are Muslim. However, in co-operation with Embassies of Muslim countries and organizations, copies of the Koran and prayer mats are offered to prisoners from time to time. Muslim prisoners are also allowed to practice their religion in groups on Holy Days.



a. Are all prisoners informed about any legal proceedings in which they are involved and, if they are sentenced, the time to be served and the possibilities of early release?

As the prison regulation provides, prisoners are informed about the development of their cases by the administrative personnel of each prison and they are called to prepare and sign the necessary documents. This is not always easy for foreign nationals who should overcome communication barriers. Due to lack of professional interpretation services, this is possible only if these inmates are accompanied by other inmates who speak Greek or other commonly understood languages fluently and act as interpreters (with confidentiality being violated, as these prisoners’ personal data become known to other inmates).



a. Are prisoners entitled to purchase or obtain goods, including food and drink for personal use? Are the prices of these goods similar to those charged for comparable goods in free society? Is the quality of these goods the same as that of comparable goods in free society?

Prisoners are allowed to buy food and drink from the prison store, according to the prison regulation. The prices are the same as in free society, or less than the retail price in a supermarket. The items on sale are the same as those sold outside prison. Visitors are also allowed to bring food for their detained relatives. Phone cards are bought by prisoners at the price they are sold outside prison.



a. Are released prisoners provided with immediate means of subsistence; are they suitably and adequately clothed with regard to the climate and season, and are they supplied with sufficient means to reach their destination?

Prisoners without financial means can obtain clothing from the social work departments of prisons. After release, some pocket money, public transportation tickets, phone cards and, in exceptional cases, short term accommodation at a hotel are provided by the central after care organization called Epanodos (“return”, in the sense of “reintegration”) if the released person contacts them. Other organizations, ngo’s, societies for the protection of ex-prisoners etc. offer basic assistance (legal aid, medical care, hospitality) and limited support programs. Some of them (i.e. Praksis) run post release centres.

b. Are released prisoners assisted in finding suitable accommodations and work?

The post-release support is rudimentary. The Workforce Employment Organization (OAED) provide small financial aid for certain categories of released prisoners. A small number of them can take advantage of some financed professional occupation programs, offered by the same organization. Information about bodies and services offering after care is supplied by prison social workers and the central after care / reintegration centre (Epanodos). Epanodos provides the above referred short-term accommodation and pocket money. With European Union funding, some programs for psychological support and legal counselling have been set up along with some workshops for job training (car mechanics, computer science, hand-made jewellery). Halfway houses for released prisoners and public sector work programs for their employment have not been established yet. Finally, some local boards (“societies”) for Social Support function, mainly as sources of information for released prisoners.



a. Are special provisions made for the sanitary needs of female prisoners?

Items for the sanitary needs of women prisoners are offered to all females upon admission in prison. Afterwards these necessities are given only to women who have no financial means, are HIV positive or pregnant. Other imprisoned women have to buy such items themselves, although the law does not distinguish between inmates who can and who cannot afford to pay for the goods they need.

b. Are prisoners allowed to give birth outside prison?

Yes. All women prisoners give birth in hospitals outside prison.



a. Are minors (aged less than 18) detained in establishments specially designed for the purpose?

Male juveniles are kept in special institutions together with young adults (18-21 years old) and, exceptionally, with young men up to 25 years old, who remain in special youth institutions for educational reasons. However, the buildings are not designed for young persons (e.g. the prison for juveniles and young adults of Avlona was previously a military prison, and Volos custodial institution for young inmates was previously an adult prison). At Eleona Thiva prison, female juveniles are kept in the same prison with adult women but in a separate section. Generally, members of the prison staff are not specially trained to deal with young prisoners. Neither is the prison regime fully adapted to their needs.

b. Do all juvenile prisoners have access to compulsory education?

Primary (six years) and secondary (three years) school attendance is compulsory in all prisons for juveniles. There are two primary and middle (secondary) education schools in respective juvenile and young adult custodial institutions but it does not mean that all juvenile prisoners actually attend the educational program.



a. How many infants are there in Greek detention facilities?

In early 2013 there is only one mother with her new-born child kept in the Women’s Prison in Korydallos. There are approximately 10 children with their mothers at Thiva Women’s Prison.

b. How many years after birth can the infants stay in the institution?

Imprisoned mothers have the right to live with and look after their children until they become 3 years old.

c. Are there nurseries, staffed by qualified personnel, where the infants may be placed when the parents are involved in activities which do not permit for the infants to be present?

Mothers attending the therapeutic community program of the Detoxification Centre for Dependent Individuals at the women’s prison in Korydallos can leave their children in a special room under the supervision of other female prisoners. There is a play area at Thiva women’s prison. There are no qualified personnel working in these premises.

d. Are there special accommodations in the prison to protect the welfare of the infants?

There is a playground at the Women’s prison at Eleona Thiva. Women with their children are kept in a different section of this prison, in individual cells which are equipped with crèche facilities. In Korydallos prison, mothers with their new born babies live next to the prison medical office, outside the main prison establishments, until they are transferred to Eleona Thiva facilities.



a. Can prisoners who are foreign nationals request contact, and be granted reasonable means to communicate with the diplomatic or consular representatives of their state?

Yes, they can contact the above mentioned representatives regularly by telephone, correspondence, supervised transfers in the context of special leaves and by accepting visits. The last kind of communication is facilitated and takes place under conditions similar to open, legal (lawyers’) visits.

b. Are prisoners who are foreign nationals informed of the possibility of requesting that the execution of their sentence be transferred to another country?

Foreign national prisoners are not systematically or regularly informed of such a possibility. Sometimes the central prison administration orders prison directors to encourage foreign inmates to start the transfer procedure. Usually, though, they are informed upon their initiative, if they express their interest for doing so and ask the prison personnel or during the public prosecutor’s or prison director’s hearings. Transfer procedures are extremely time-consuming and presuppose that the court decision is not appealable, which is an additional problem because of delays in criminal courts hearings. These circumstances sometimes press interested prisoners to renounce their right to appeal.

c. Are prisoners who are foreign nationals divided by country of origin within the sections of each institution?

There is not a policy of prisoners’ segregation based on nationality or ethnic origin criteria. Actually, though, inmates are dispersed in prison wings, sections and units according to their nationality and origin (Greeks, Albanians, Kurds, Arabs etc.), which are taken into consideration together with other criteria provided by prison rules (gender, age, health, legal status etc.) with the purpose to restrict cultural and other conflicts originating from enormous heterogeneity. In any case they can apply to move to other sections or units of the prison. In these cases “cultural” considerations are not followed strictly.

d. Are interpreting services available to foreign nationals?

There are not interpretation services as part of the structure of the prison administration. The need of foreign prisoners to communicate and be informed in a language they can understand is not met by the prison service, but is dealt with by other inmates who act as quasi interpreters, whatever this may mean as far as the accuracy and the credibility of what is explained as well as the protection of an inmate’s interests and the quality of the prisoner-staff relations.



a. Are there any particular ethnic minorities among the prison population? What is their percentage of the total prison population?

The number of Romani inmates and inmates who belong to the officially recognized Muslim minority of Western Thrace is unknown since no relevant information is registered in prison records. All these inmates are Greek citizens, so they do not appear at all as a separate category in prison statistics. According to an unofficial estimation, in the central judicial prison of Korydallos Romani inmates represent close to 10% of Greek nationals.



a. Are medical services in prison organized in close relation with the general health services of the community or nation?

Prison medical services belong to the prison administration structure, although the law provides for the integration of Korydallos Psychiatric clinic and the general Hospital for inmates, as well as the special treatment facilities for drug-addicted prisoners to the (Public) National Health Care System that belongs to the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity. The reason which dictated this change is the need to ensure that all health care services for inmates are similar to those available to the general public. The integration depends on the issue of a presidential decree which is pending almost five years after the enactment of the relevant law, despite the work of a committee with representatives of both competent ministries. Meanwhile the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights is looking forward to cooperating with the NHCS, university bodies and non-governmental organizations that can contribute, with their staff, to the provision of psychiatric and medical services in prisons, implementing memoranda of cooperation. For this purpose agreements for the cooperation of the prison service with hospitals and health services are being made.

Health care service in prisons is one of the most problematic areas of inmate treatment, as various decisions of the European Court of Human Rights show. These decisions condemn Greece for violations of the inmates’ right to proper medical care, namely for violations of article 3 of the European Convention for Human Rights. The CPT reports reach a similar conclusion as regards the quality of prison health care services.

b. Are all necessary medical, surgical and psychiatric services (including those available in the community) provided to the prisoners?

Despite the general rule that prisoners should enjoy health care services similar to those which exist for the general public, the European Court for Human Rights, the CPT, the Ombudsman, prisoners and their supporters recognize or claim that this is not the case. In most prisons, even in the central ones, there are not medical officers working daily on a 24 – hour basis. Usually health problems are dealt with by visiting doctors and nursing duties are performed by untrained members of the prison (custodial) staff, many times assisted by prisoners assigned to the task of nursing assistance in the context of prisoners’ work, due to lack of professional nurses.

c. Is there at least one qualified general medical practitioner in every institution?

No. In most prisons there is not even one permanent medical practitioner of any qualification. Prisoners are examined by visiting doctors who normally offer their services for two hours each week. Prisoners have also the right to call a private doctor to visit and examine them, paying the charges themselves. Recently, efforts are being made to cover inmates’ health care needs with doctors who work in the National Health Care System and visit prisons on a regular, daily basis.

d. Are the services of qualified dentists and opticians available to every prisoner?

See above (previous question). Regarding the overall situation of healthcare provision in prisons, the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights recognizes that medical doctors are not interested in working in prisons and claims that it is a long-standing problem, hard to resolve. The Ministry presents data according to which, inter alia, for eleven working posts of medical doctors of “internal medicine” only 3 people expressed interest and for nine posts of psychiatrists only 2 candidates applied, while one dentist is on duty in the Women’s Prison, and three more doctors “were about to be appointed” in 2011 in the (then) 33 prisons of the country.

e. Are prisoners suspected of infectious or contagious diseases isolated for the period of infection and provided with proper treatment?

These inmates are either transferred to the Prisoners’ General Hospital of Korydallos or they are segregated and kept in special units in isolation. In these cases the decision is made by the prison director in compliance with the opinion of a medical doctor. This isolation lasts as long as it is necessary exclusively for medical reasons.

f. Are sick prisoners who require specialized treatment transferred to specialty institutions or to civil hospitals, when such treatment is not available in prison?

Implementing the law, the prison service transfers many prisoners to the General Hospital for Prisoners in Korydallos and to external, public hospitals for examinations, surgical operations and medical treatment. The legal procedure for programmed transfers for health reasons is time consuming and inflexible, adding further problems to the already downgraded health care for inmates as the prison administration has to wait up to twenty days for the approval of the proposed transfer and more until the approved transfer takes place.

As the Ombudsman concludes, prisoners who are disabled have no access to special facilities and in serious cases they are repeatedly transferred to the Korydallos General Hospital for Prisoners or rely on other inmates’ care.

g. Are persons who are suffering from mental illness and whose state of mental health is incompatible with detention in a prison detained in an establishment specially designed for the purpose?

Prisoners with mental health problems are transferred to the Korydallos Prison Psychiatric Clinic or to external public psychiatric hospitals. Their treatment and the duration of their stay in these units depend exclusively on the doctors’ opinion. Offenders who are considered “criminally irresponsible” for mental health problems are not imprisoned at all and their mental health treatment depends on their judicially defined dangerousness.

h. What is the treatment available for drug users and for drug addicts in prison? Are there harm reduction programmes?

The Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights mention that concerted efforts are being made for the treatment and care of drug-addicted prisoners. Detoxification counseling programs run by the Addicted Persons Treatment Centre (Kethea), as well as the Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Unit "18 Ano", Narcotics Anonymous and "Arsis-Social Youth Support Organization" operate in the majority of prisons (sixteen institutions in 2012).

A pioneering special Detoxification Centre for Prisoners is also functioning in Eleona, Thiva, run by the Ministry of Justice. KETHEA therapeutic communities exist in two prisons, Korydallos [one for men, one for women] and Eleonas Womens’ Prison, Thiva.

Persons with withdrawal symptoms upon admission are sent to Korydallos Prison Psychiatric Clinic.

The pilot operation of a program for the delivery of substitutes to the Korydallos and Patra prisons is also forwarded (being at preparatory stage). Recently, the law on drugs allows all kinds of programs to be implemented.

In many cases, drugs are prescribed by psychiatrists working in or visiting prisons. In general, though, drugs are easily found in prisons, legally or illegally, and many inmates continue or start drug use in them.



a. Are there any special commissions composed of prisoners with the aim of discussing issues related to detention conditions? How are they constituted?

No, formally there aren’t. Nevertheless, unofficially, in the context of various forms of prisoners’ protests, such informal commissions (groups of “representatives”) are formed and negotiate with authorities. How persons who participate in these “delegations” are chosen is questionable, as it is observed (by the CPT) that groups of strong inmates control and exploit other prisoners.



a. What are the main security measures applied to individual prisoners? How are they applied?

Prisoners are counted and controlled regularly three times a day. They and their movement are also searched or controlled by cameras and detectors. There is no policy for the implementation of dynamic security. The serious understaffing of prison does not allow for such a policy anyway. According to recent journalists’ reports, confirmed by the Greek Federation of Prison Service Personnel, one unarmed prison officer is responsible for the supervision of 300 inmates and, at night in some prisons the situation is worse (1/450). For the same reason (understaffing), perimeter security with armed staff is also rudimentary. There are no risk assessment procedures during admission. According to the CPT, there are high levels of violence among inmates and there are powerful groups of prisoners who dominate and exercise control over other inmates. There are no security regulations with the exception of some general and abstract references in the Penitentiary Code. In practice, prison staff try to obtain prisoners homogeneity with the aim to prevent negative and disorderly situations stemming from cultural and personal differences, to isolate and segregate provocative inmates with mobility within the same prison or with transfers to other prisons, even with locking them inside cells and dormitories or allowing them access to various areas of the establishment in different groups and shifts. Prison staff also uses urine tests for drug use detection and searches (either for persons or in various areas of the establishments). A very controversial issue is vaginal searches which since 2011 are recorded in a Vaginal Search Register with the name of the doctor who conducts the search, the reasons which justify it, the date and time of the search and explicit reference to the public prosecutor's order, on the basis of which it is conducted. In Eleona Thiva women’s prison such searches are conducted only with the prisoner’s consent and only after a positive drug detection test.

b. According to the training course of the prison staff, how should security measures be applied?

There is no specific guidance given to the prison staff during their training for the application of security measures. Actually, prison guards are ordered to adjust their practices to the specific conditions of the situation.



a. How are visitors (such as legal representatives, social workers, volunteers, etc.) controlled by the prison staff? Is special equipment, such as metal detectors, used?

Visitors are identified and must hand over their mobile phones to prison staff before entering the prison. As they go through magnetic gates they are scanned for forbidden items and substances such as guns, explosives, mobile phones, drugs. Portable metal detectors are also used. Those who should not be subjected to these procedures for health reasons are searched by staff members of the same gender.



a. Are disciplinary procedures used as a mechanism of last resort?

The principle of initiating disciplinary procedures as a last resort for prisoners’ disobedience and prison disorder does not exist in law. On the contrary, disciplinary sanctions are potentially imposed even for relatively insignificant violations such as indifference for sanitation and undocumented complaints. In practice, these “violations” of order are usually dealt with informally. The usual cases reported to the disciplinary council are import and possession of drugs, bodily harm and violence, possession of items which can be used as weapons, possession of mobile phones and the production of alcohol.

b. Which are the main types of punishment of prisoners? How are they applied?

There are four disciplinary sanctions. These are (a) restriction in a special cell up to ten days, (b) transfer to another prison, (c) disciplinary point system (up to 30 points for each violation of disciplinary rules, and especially for mobile phone possession 100 points) affecting the evaluation of prisoners’ behavior, (d) prohibition of work or of participation in vocational activities for a period up to one year. The choice of the sanction to be imposed depends mainly on the seriousness of the disciplinary violation.

c. Can a prisoner who is found guilty of a disciplinary offence appeal to a competent and independent higher authority?

Yes, a prisoner punished for disciplinary reasons can appeal to the Court for the Execution of Sentences, which is a three member judicial council.



a. What are the main instruments of restraint used in prison? How are they used?

The law explicitly provides only for the use of handcuffs and the restriction in special cells as those which are used in disciplinary procedures. Simultaneously it allows in a very abstract way the use of any other proper (“relevant and proportional”) means of restraint. Handcuffs are used in violent events and (potentially, when it is considered absolutely –upon discretion of the escorting officers- necessary) during transfers. The Penitentiary Code provides also that this measure should be avoided when the inmate is juvenile, sick, elderly or pregnant.



a. Can prison staff hold and use lethal weapons within the prison perimeter?

Prison guards supervising inmates (custodial staff) are not allowed to carry guns. They can use only batons and handcuffs, in cases of emergency. Perimeter security guards, who are competent to accompany inmates transferred and treated in hospitals, carry lethal weapons. The same applies for special police forces competent for the repression of serious disorder and hostage taking in prisons, which enter prisons after an order issued by the prison public prosecutor.



a. Under which conditions can prison staff use force against prisoners?

The use of force by prison staff is allowed only exceptionally, in cases of prisoners’ violence which endangers other inmates’ or staff members’ life, health and freedom. It is also allowed as a means for the protection of prisoners from themselves or others. The CPT reports that there are not allegations of purposeful ill-treatment of prisoners by prison staff. However, there are allegations of harsh treatment by police forces quelling disturbances or searching prison establishments and inmates’ cells, recently discussed in the Parliament.

b. Can other law enforcement agencies be involved in dealing with prisoners inside prison? If so, under which circumstances?

In cases of collective disobedience and resistance such as the prisoners’ refusal to enter their cells or when violent events take place, the prison public prosecutor, or, in case of his/her absence, the prison director may order the contribution of the perimeter security staff and the intervention of special police forces. The kind of intervention is decided by the chief of the police force. This procedure has been activated in many collective and violent prisoners’ protests and riots, as well as in cases of prison staff members taken as hostages.



a. Do prisoners (and their families) have the opportunity to make requests or complaints to the director of the prison or to any other competent authority?

The prison rules provide for prison officials hearings where inmates requests and complaints are made. Inmates also have the right to send reports and correspondence to all public authorities and all international organizations, applying for legal/judicial support. Within the prison they can refer to the Prison Council in case of prison staff illegal orders or actions. If this is not effective, they can apply to a judicial council, a version of the Court for the Execution of Sentences. It is also possible to complain to the prison public prosecutor in the context of his/her hearings, as well as to the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights. Recently, a direct telephone line has been put in operation by the Ministry of Justice, to facilitate these procedures.



a. Give number of administrative staff, prison officers, and educational staff (per prisoner) that work inside prison facilities.

According to the Greek Federation of Prison Service Personnel, staff working in prisons is:

Administrative staff  277
Scientific staff  194
Prison officers performing custodial duties  1.747
Prison officers performing administrative and other duties  308

Educational staff, as well as the majority of medical staff does not belong to the prison service. Data for these categories are not available.

b. Give percentage of staff gender per function (i.e. administrative, officers, educational).

NA. This kind of information is not kept.

c. Are there some special units among prison officers?

Prison officers are divided in two categories. The first is (unarmed) guards supervising inmates (custodial staff) and the second is (armed) perimeter security officers. There are no special prison officers’ forces. The repression of major disorders in prisons is assigned to police special forces.



a. Are there individual sentence plans for sentenced prisoners (including work, education, other activities, and preparation for release)?

The Prison Regulation provides for sentence planning as a result of cooperation between prisoners and specialist members of prison staff (social workers, psychologists, sociologists, criminologists). A sentence plan includes education, work, vocational training, drug dependency treatment etc. In practice individual treatment programs are planned exclusively for inmates who participate in fully developed therapeutic drug detoxification programs, such as the one implemented in Eleona, Thiva Detoxification Centre.

b. Are sentenced prisoners encouraged to participate in drawing up their individual sentence plans (that should include work, education, other activities, and preparation for release)?

According to the law, inmates are encouraged to actively participate in custody and sentence planning. However, in practice only organized therapeutic programs or a regular contact with prison psychologists potentially fulfill the aim of sentence planning.

c. Is there a system of prison leave as an integral part of the overall regime for sentenced prisoners?

Yes. There is a threefold prison leave scheme, namely regular, educational and “emergency” leaves. The first two kinds of prison leave are granted by the Disciplinary Council of the Prison, where the prison public prosecutor is presiding. Emergency leaves are granted by the prison public prosecutor. Foreign and homeless inmates as well as those lacking a supportive social and family network are usually excluded from prison leave schemes, despite the law which provides that the above mentioned categories should be initially qualified for small “freedom intervals” like other inmates, and that their situation should not be the “a priori” basis for the rejection of their applications for a prison leave. An inmate, if his/her application for a leave is rejected twice, has the right to appeal to a judicial council, instead of the never established “court for the execution of sentences”.

The prospect of a prison leave is a serious incentive for an inmate to avoid misbehavior and trouble in prison. As the Minister of Justice recently declared the number of prison leaves granted from 1999 up to 2011 is 54.157 and inmates failed to return to prison in 1.364 cases (2,52%). Although in terms of return rates the success of the measure is obvious, there is a public discussion for restrictions and a more demanding implementation in the context of some impressive escapes of inmates who do not return after the prison leave granted to them expires. In the context of this discussion, the introduction of electronic monitoring is forwarded, supported by the majority of parliamentary parties.

d. Can prisoners be involved in programmes of restorative justice and in making reparations for their offences?

No. Such programs are not implemented in Greek prisons.

e. How many prisoners are serving sentences of more than 10 years of imprisonment?

4.953 (among them 1.025 are life termers).



a. Is the sentence of “life in prison” available the penal code?

A life sentence can be imposed for a variety of criminal acts according to the Greek Penal Law. After the abolition of the death penalty (de jure in 1993 and de facto in 1972), it is the most serious criminal sanction in the country’s legal system.

b. Are there any alternative measures for prisoners serving life sentence provided in the criminal justice system?

Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment are normally eligible for conditional release after having served 20 years (16 years time served actually in prison and 4 years time earned by work). In some cases these time limits increase to 25 and 20 years respectively. The 1999 Penitentiary Code also provides that lifers, as well as other prisoners, are eligible for semi-liberty, connected with work outside prisons. However, this has been applied, experimentally, only to one inmate serving life-imprisonment.

c. Are there prisoners serving actual life sentence (i.e. a life sentence without any possibility of reduction or admission to leaves or any measure alternative to life imprisonment)?

The Greek Penal Law does not provide that life sentences are served in full. All lifers are eligible for conditional release and for prison leave schemes. Only persons sentenced for high treason are excluded from all kinds of prison leave and their conditional release is dependent upon more demanding presuppositions, but this happens because of their offence, not because of the sentence imposed.

d. How many inmates with life sentence are there (and their percentage of the total prison population)?

1.025 inmates were serving life sentences on January 1st, 2013 (8,21% of the total prison population), compared to 599 lifers imprisoned on January 1st, 2003 (7,11% of the total prison population).

e. Are special sentence plans (regarding work, education and other activities) provided for prisoners serving life sentence? Are these sentence plans drawn up individually, taking into account the needs of each inmate serving such a sentence?

According to Prison Regulation, custody plans should be drawn up for all inmates. No special reference is made to lifers. In practice, only a small number of inmates who are members of detoxification therapeutic communities and, in a sense, inmates working with psychologists on a regular basis, are able to prepare special sentence plans with the help of their therapists.

f. Do prisoners serving life sentence stay in a single cell or share it with other inmates?

As a rule, inmates sentenced to life imprisonment are not placed in individual accommodation status, either in legal or in actual terms. Individual accommodation is by law a right for all inmates, depending though on space availability and limited to prisons built after 2000. In exceptional cases, a life termer can be placed in an individual cell.



a. How is the notion of “alternative” to detention defined?

There is not a unique and official definition of alternatives to prison. A variety of measures have been legislated in the Penal Code, the Code of Penal Procedure and Special Penal Laws with the purpose to divert accused and convicted persons from custody a) before trial (restrictive conditions), b) at the sentencing level (conditional suspension of the execution of the sentence, with or without supervision, and conversion of the prison sentence into a pecuniary one and, further, to community service and c) before the passed sentence is fully served in prison (conditional release). Electronic monitoring as a form of conditional release, granted before “traditional” conditional release is now introduced. The Correctional Code also, provides for some other alternative ways for the execution of custodial sentences (semi-liberty, weekend detention - intermittent custody and community service not in the form of the Penal Code).

b. What are the main alternative measures to detention being used (give absolute numbers)?

At the level of sentencing, custodial sanctions may be executed in the form of the conditional suspension of the originally passed sentence (with or without supervision) and in the form of its conversion into a pecuniary one. An initially converted sentence may be further converted into a community service order. In a seventeen year period (1980–1996), courts passed custodial sentences convertible to fines on 87-90% of all convicted persons. Suspended sentences, ranging between 11 and 15,2% in the 1980’s, almost doubled in the 1990’s from 10,3% in 1990 to 18,3% in 1996 and further increased in the first decade of the 21st century, exceeding 30% in 2004. Respectively, actual prison sentences were imposed in 6–7% of offenders in the 1980s, whereas after 1990 this rate doubled to 13 percent. Suspension of a custodial sentence with supervision, formally introduced in 1991, after two decades of non-implementation due to lack of proper infrastructure and competent personnel (probation services and officers), is now rarely imposed. Community service has been instituted in two forms. The first, in the form of conversion, is granted on condition that the person convicted requests or accepts to do unpaid work for the community. In this form community service is still applied hesitantly, being the third step of a complex sentencing procedure, where the custodial sentence may take consecutively three different forms, restricting respectively the offender’s personal liberty, economic status and free time. The second form is provided in the Penitentiary Code for inmates who were sentenced to imprisonment that was converted into a pecuniary sentence but serve the original sentence because they were unable or unwilling to pay the required amount of the conversion. Judicial practice seems to completely ignore this option. Semi-liberty (connected with work outside prison) and intermittent custody (provided as an alternative to a custodial sentence converted into a pecuniary one but served in prison) are also not implemented. Only one unit for semi-liberty exists, in Eleona Thiva Women’s Prison, established in 2009.

c. Are they imposed before (as alternative to punishment) or during conviction (as alternative to prison)?

Conversion and suspension are used as alternatives to prison. These non-custodial options of sentencing lie within the milieu of sentences depriving liberty. The converted sentence is by law characterized as a custodial sanction, even after its total or partial payment or service for the interests of the community, and this has symbolic and practical dimensions in cases of non-compliance. Non-custodial alternatives to prison are not sentences in their own right; they presuppose that the court imposes a custodial sentence which, if it does not exceed three or, in some cases, five years, is then considered for the various forms of conversion or suspension. With a 2010 reform the suspension and conversion of short and middle term custodial sentences became either mandatory (for the shorter of these sentences) or regular. Conversion and suspension are the major filters of the contemporary Greek sentencing system which “guard” the front end of the prison system, diverting an important proportion of the convicted population out of it.

An interesting measure, dictated by humanitarian considerations is the facilitation of conditional release for some vulnerable groups of prisoners (hemiplegics or paraplegics, persons suffering from multiple sclerosis or persons that have undergone heart, liver, kidney or bone marrow transplant, HIV-positive persons, persons suffering from tuberculosis, cancer, renal failure, undergoing dialysis, seriously disabled persons, as well as mother prisoners with children in prison). These prisoners enjoy a beneficial calculation for the serving of their sentences, as one day of stay in a penitentiary facility is automatically calculated as two days, shortening thus the custodial part of the sentence served.



a. Has Greece signed/ratified/acceded the OPCAT? If yes - when?

OPCAT has been signed in March 2011 by the Greek Government but not ratified in Greece at the time of writing this report (September 2013). 

b. Is the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) set up, designated or maintained? If yes - when?

No. At the moment there is a governmental initiative for the ratification of OPCAT, drafted in 2011, publicly discussed in March 2012, but pending in the Parliament since September 5th, 2013. 

c. If the NPM exist, which type of the NPM is it (a separate body; a separate department within the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)/Ombudsman's Office; NHRI or Ombudsman's Office itself; NHRI or Ombudsman's Office together with non-governmental organisations/experts; several separate bodies etc.)?

NPM does not exist. In the pending draft the Ombudsman is the chosen authority to act as the NPM. 

d. Are the mandate and powers of the NPM clearly set out in a constitutional or legislative text?

NPM does not exist yet. 

e. Is the visiting mandate of the NPM extended to all places of deprivation of liberty?

NPM does not exist yet. 

f. Does the NPM have its own budget? If yes - please, indicate its annual amount. If not - please, specify how the NPM is financed.

NPM does not exist yet. 

g. Does the NPM have its own staff? If yes, how many people are employed there, and what is their professional background? If not, please, specify who fulfils the duties of the NPM?

NPM does not exist yet. 

h. Are there any other inspection and monitoring bodies dedicated to prisons, and if so what are they?

The answer is not a simple “Yes” or “No”. According to the CPT, one of the fundamental structural issues which undermine attempts to remedy prison system problems is the absence of an effective system of reporting and supervision. The Greek National Commission for Human Rights mention that for some years the Ministry of Justice has systematically denied access to prisons to authoritative institutions, such as the Ombudsman, an independent authority. The Ministry used to claim several reasons for this refusal; inter alia, the sufficient role of the prosecutors assigned to supervise penitentiary facilities and the Prison Inspection and Control Body. In 2009 this situation changed and recently, the Ombudsman has had free access to prison establishments, reporting on prison conditions and prisoners rights, as well as mediating between inmates and the prison administration in the context of the wider mandate of the authority in the field of the relations between the state and the citizen. According to the still (September 2013) pending 2012 draft law, the Ombudsman is intended to be the OPCAT National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture.



a. Who investigates prisoners’ complaints of ill-treatment by prison staff or by other prisoners (inter-prisoner violence) in Greece (internal investigative body of the prison; external investigative body; prosecutor’s office, etc.)?

Prisoners generally have the right to make requests and complaints orally and in written form to various national and international competent authorities, both administrative and judicial. There is a complicated mix of internal, administrative in-service and hierarchical referal procedures (the prison director, the prison council and the Ministry of Justice), a controversial judicial control of legality (as the competent public prosecutor acts simultaneously as an interim judge, a judge for the execution of the sentence and participates in administrative decision making prison bodies as regards crucial inmates’ treatmemt issues), a Prison Inspection and Control Body created by and operating within the framework of the Ministry of Justice with visiting and reporting competence, the Central Scientific Council for Prisons, operating supposedly as an advisory think tank for prison policy within the Ministy of Justice and with members chosen by the Minister of Justice. Finally, there is the Ombudsman, an independent authority, mediating between the state and the citizen for human rights issues and the (recently established as permanent, previously ad hoc) All-Party Parliamentary Commission for the Prison System. The Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, General Secretaryship for Crime Policy, has recently activated a hotline for prisoners allegations. A form of social control is the sanitary inspection of prisons upon the initiative of the public prosecutor who is supervising prisons with the participation of local government and medical associations representatives. 

b. Is it possible for a prisoner to appeal the decision of the investigative body? If yes - to whom?

It depends on the body and the kind of the investigation (administrative or judicial). If the investigation results in criminal charges, the case may be tried in three degrees (first and second instance court, supreme court). Civil court procedures are also open for inmates. In both procedures, the European Court of Human Rights is competent to examine the case if the inmate believes that there is a miscarriage in justice and applies to it. Administrative investigations are initially ordered at the stage of the prison hierarchy (director and prison council) and may be carried out by the central prison administration, if the inmate’s request is not satisfactorily dealt with. Judicial control by administrative courts is not possible as court precedents show that the decisions for inmates are considered measures for the order and security of prisons, not subjected to such a control. Despite the existence of various investigating and mediating bodies and procedures, a sense of impunity for prison staff is reported in CPT reports and independed authorities documents.

c. Are statistics available on the number of prisoner complaints of ill-treatment by the prison staff and by other prisoners (inter-prisoner violence)? If yes, please provide the numbers.


d. Are statistics available on disciplinary/criminal proceedings initiated with regard to ill-treatment by the prison staff and by prisoners (inter-prisoner violence)? If yes, please provide the numbers.


e. Are statistics available on the outcome of disciplinary/criminal proceedings with regard to ill-treatment by the prison staff and by prisoners (inter-prisoner violence)? If yes, please provide how many proceedings have resulted in disciplinary/criminal sanctions. If possible, please specify which kinds of sanctions (fines, suspended sentence, imprisonment, etc.) are most applied.




The ongoing economic crisis has had multiple and contradictory effects on Greek prisons.

Changes in the trends and patterns of crime have affected both the size and the social composition of prison population through the selectivity of the penal system. Soaring unemployment (official rate of 27,8% in September 2013) and increasing relative and absolute poverty initially fuelled a significant increase in the number of property and violent offences. Police-recorded crime statistics showed that between 2009 and 2011 the total annual volume of burglaries and thefts rose by 33%, the respective numbers of robberies increased by 41% and of homicides by 29%. This trend seems to be reversing, as part of the redundant workforce is leaving the country. Thus, since 2012, the total annual number of robberies, burglaries, and thefts has been reduced by about 17% and the number of homicides by 10%.

Between 2009 and 2013 the number of inmates increased by 6,3%, whereas between 2003 and 2008 it had increased by 33,5%. Overrepresentation of foreigners in Greek prisons reached a peak in 2011 (72,2% of detainees in the Judicial Prison of Korydallos, the main entry point into the Greek prison system) and has since then declined slightly (68% in 2013). As widening income inequalities threaten to destabilize the political system, political violence has increased and a number of militants and terrorists have been imprisoned. Moreover, in 2013, and for the first time after the fall of the military dictatorship, the leader and some MPs of the ‘nationalist’ (but widely considered to be neo-Nazi) political party “Golden Dawn” were charged and imprisoned for directing a criminal organization. Finally, mounting discontent over state impunity regarding grand corruption has encouraged prosecutors to send to prison a few members of the political and business elite. Therefore, the economic crisis has made the ‘community’ of inmates more heterogeneous, and the social environment of Greek prisons more unsafe than ever before.

The construction of five new prisons with a capacity of 4000 inmates - on schedule since 2006 – has been postponed due to lack of public funds. Even newly-built wings remain closed. The official rate of overcrowding is 135%, but in reality three, four or five inmates are kept in individual cells. Some of them have to sleep on the floor, in some cases even on mattresses laid out in corridors.

Reductions in public spending on the prison system by 18,4%, from 136 in 2009 to 111 million euros in 2013 (by 15,4% if some extra funds are included) have resulted in a general deterioration in prison conditions. For example, the daily cost of food per inmate has decreased by 28% between 2003 and 2013 (from 3,2 euros in 2003 to 2,4 euros in 2013) while food prices have skyrocketed. This means that an increasing part of the cost of imprisonment has shifted to inmates themselves in a time of declining family support (e.g. inmates in Korydallos spent 3,05 million euros to buy basic necessities in 2013, more than the 2,12 million spent by the state on food supplies). Thus, each inmate in the above prison spent in 2013 on average 34% less to buy goods from the prison canteen than seven years ago (from an average of 682,5 euros in 2006 to an average of 450,5 euros in 2013).

Salary cuts (up to 50% of net annual income) have forced many prison officers to retire earlier. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice has not been allowed to hire prison guards since 2009. Extreme understaffing (shifts with 1-2 prison guards per 400-450 inmates, staff working for weeks without a day-off) threatens inmates’ personal safety. For example, in Korydallos one homicide and 139 injuries of inmates (85% of whom needed transferring to hospital) in addition to an attempted homicide and two serious injuries of prison officers were reported in 2013. In this context, police special forces have repeatedly been asked to enter prisons to suppress riots or to search the cells for weapons.

The effects of the acute financial crisis on correctional policy have been contradictory so far. On the one hand, cuts in public spending encourage ‘state-of-emergency’ legislation (e.g. Law 4043/2012) in an attempt to curb the increase of prison population. On the other hand, the unprecedented present levels of economic insecurity, the legitimacy crisis of the state and the systematic effort of the mass media to divert public anger away from the economic and political elite are contributing towards more punitive treatment of prisoners. Media coverage does not focus any more on unacceptable living conditions and human rights violations in prisons, but on the ‘lenient’ treatment of inmates by prison officers. Revelations that a ‘swimming pool’ has been constructed in the prison psychiatric unit, that prisoners are allowed to buy ‘smoked salmon’ from prison canteens etc. caused major public scandals recently. This kind of media coverage puts pressure on prison authorities to enforce restrictive prison rules in order to avoid negative publicity and disciplinary or criminal charges.



Dr Nikolaos K. Koulouris is Assistant Professor in Penology and Penal Policy at the Department of Social Administration and Political Science, Democritus University of Thrace and a teaching staff member in the International Intensive Common Study Program Criminal Justice and Critical Criminology. He also teaches criminological courses at the Department of Communication and Mass Media, University of Athens. He has been a postgraduate scholar in Criminology and Penology at the Law School, Sector of Penal Sciences, University of Athens. Formerly working as a criminologist at Korydallos Judicial Prison, Piraeus, and being member and secretary of the Central Scientific Council of Prisons, an advisory prison policy body, he has important research experience in the field of criminal justice, prison policy and human rights issues. He authored and edited relevant books, reports and articles, including Surveillance and Criminal Justice. Alternative Sanctions and the Dispersal of Prison (2009), The Social (Re-)integration of Prison (2009), On standby. Korydallos Prison (2009), Deviant Behaviour and Penal Phenomenon (2012) [co-authored with Sophie Vidali].

Dr William Aloskofis is a prison sociologist (practitioner, researcher and educator). He has been working in the central Judicial Prison of Korydallos since 2000. He has worked as a part-time member of the academic staff at the Greek Open University, as a guest speaker in postgraduate programs in Criminology and Penal Sciences and as a trainer in seminars for prison and probation officers. His publications include the monograph The Inmates’ Informal Code of Conduct. Coping Strategies in the Modern Prison (Athens: Ant. N. Sakkoulas, 2010) and a book chapter on the “Social and Penal Situation of Prisoners in the Judicial Prison of Korydallos: Differences Between Natives and Foreigners” (Athens: Ant. N. Sakkoulas, 2009).

Scientific coordinator:

Dr Sophie Vidali is Associate Professor in Criminology and Crime Policy at the Department of Social Administration and Political Science, Democritus University of Thrace and a teaching staff member in the International Intensive Common Study Program Criminal Justice and Critical Criminology. […] She has been a chief scientific coordinator in research and policy projects conducted by the National Organization Against Drugs (OKANA), the Ministry of Public Order and various NGO’s in Greece related to drug addicts social support, drug retail markets, police, policing and prison policy, juveniles social protection, migration policy, human rights and criminal justice personnel education systems in Europe. She is the author of books and articles on police and policing, state crime, nightlife and crime, organized crime, prison life, criminal statistics and critical criminology. Her recent publications include “Introduction to Criminology” (2013, in Greek), “Police, Crime Control and Human Rights” (2012, in Greek) and “Crime Policy” (2013, in Greek), “Crime Policy” (2013, in Greek) and “Deviant Behaviour and Penal Phenomenon” (2012) [co-authored with Nikolaos Koulouris].



Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH) was founded in 1973 and today consists of 18 Departments located in Thrace, Greece. The Research Committee of DUTH, via its Special Account, is responsible for the allocation and administration of funds from national, european and international sources, intended to cover the costs necessary for the needs of research, education, training, development and continuing education projects and projects for scientific, technological and artistic services, special studies, measurements, laboratory tests and analysis performed or provided by the Scientific staff of the University in collaboration with other Specialists/Researchers. The Department of Social Administration and Political Science, belongs to the School of Social, Political and Economic Sciences. It was founded in 2013, after two previously independed departments merged, and it is located in Komotini. Originally founded as Department of Social Administration in 1994, and operating since 1996, it accepts approximately 400 students annually in two introductory directions (Social Administration and Political Science respectively) and it is the only one in Greece that offers university level education in Social Administration combining in a degree Social Policy, Administration and Social Work. Political Science, is further contributing to the academic uniqueness of the Department, which has a strong multi-disciplinary orientation and draws together academic staff with backgrounds in a wide range of social sciences, such as Social Policy, Sociology, Law, Economics, Social Psychology, Social Work, Political Science, Criminology and other related disciplines. Its objectives are to cultivate all the disciplines of its introductory and advanced directions through academic teaching and research, to promote understanding of the historical, philosophical, value and ethical base informing all the teaching subjects, to provide students with the necessary analytical, evaluative and problem solving skills for their career as professionals as well as social scientists in the modern world and to promote social solidarity and the delivery of quality services. After 18 years of operation it has 25 full time teaching staff members supported by adjunct staff, who offer a wide number of core-obligatory and elective courses. The Department developed co-operation with European Universities in the context of the ERASMUS and the SOCRATES programs. Staff members have been involved in several other international research projects and European networks. A post-graduate program in social policy and social work operates since 2009-10. 25% of the about 40 PhD projects have been successfully completed. The Department also organized two international conferences (in 2001 and 2003) and one ‘young researchers’ conference (in 2007 for celebrating its 10th anniversary), alongside a large number of workshops, seminars and colloquia.



Department of Social Administration and Political Science

Democritus University of Thrace

P. Tsaldari, 1- 69100 Komotini

Tel. + 30 2531039409, + 30 2531039412

Fax + 30 2531039442




[1] Young adults (18-21 years old and sometimes adults up to 25 years old) who are kept in special, custodial institutions for young inmates are separated from other adults, but live together with juveniles (15-18 years old). Statistics do not differentiate between juveniles and young adults. The result is that numbers for juvenile inmates do not exist. Moreover, numbers for adults do not include young adults, as they are counted as “young inmates”, in the same category with juveniles. Some hundreds of inmates who, due to lack of space, are kept in police custodial facilities although they should be in establishments run by the prison administration are also excluded – exact numbers do not exist but in journalist’s reports it is referred that they are approximately 1.000. Data presented below refer to the total prison population, while data under the “juvenile prisons” heading refer to young (juvenile + young adult + up to 25 years old) inmates and the special custodial institutions where they are kept.

[2] Young adults (18-21 years old) and some young inmates (21-25 years old) who are kept in special, custodial institutions for young inmates are separated from other adults, but live together with juveniles (15-18 years old). Statistics do not differentiate between juveniles, young adults and other young inmates kept in special institutions. The result is that numbers for juvenile inmates do not exist. Moreover, numbers for adults do not include young adults, as they are counted as “young inmates”, in the same category with juveniles.